How Can an Incapacitated Person Sign a Legal Document?

By Melissa L. Rubino

As you may know, the signing legal documents such as trusts and wills are subject to very strict requirements, and for good reason. It is crucially important that no corners are cut when signatures are applied to estate planning documents, as forged or otherwise fraudulent documents can cause irreversible damage. But what happens if you are physically unable to hold a pen and make a signature?

Far too often, individuals of sound mind who are involved in accidents are faced with the concern of how to manage their estate when they are unable to sign a document. However, the Michigan Notary Public Act has a provision to address just this situation and allow a mentally competent person who is physically disabled to affix the necessary signature for estate planning documents.

Section 33 of the Michigan Notary Public Act allows a notary public to sign the name of a person who is unable to sign due to limited physical characteristics or capacity if (1) the notary public is permitted and directed by the person to sign his or her name, (2) the person is in the physical presence of the notary public, and (3) the notary public includes a notation that the signature is being affixed under Section 33.

Following this procedure, an incapacitated individual such as a stroke victim or a quadriplegic retains the freedom and power to create or modify any estate planning documents with the assistance of a notary. A situation such as this can unfortunately present itself at any moment, and is therefore one of the many reasons an experienced estate planning attorney can help you navigate the strict and nuanced estate planning laws during a difficult time.

Melissa L. Rubino is an associate in the firm's Estate Planning and Estate and Trust Administration practice group and specializes in handling estate planning and probate matters. Melissa was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 2014, is licensed to practice before all Michigan State Courts, and is also a member of the Macomb County Bar Association.

Categories: Estate Planning